How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen
When Windows 10 works, it’s a great operating system. When it doesn’t, it causes many inconveniences and lots of frustration. Among Microsoft’s pile of peculiarities is its talent for throwing up brain-scratching bugs. One of these bugs is the Start menu freezing.
The good news is that there are a few solutions to a freezing Start Menu in Windows 10. Some are easy; others are trickier. You can try the top four fixes below, from merely shutting down programs to tinkering with Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool. Here are the details.
Solution #1: Check for Corrupt Files
Many problems with Windows come down to corrupt files, and Start menu issues are no exception. To fix this, launch the Task Manager either by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager, or hitting ‘Ctrl+Alt+Delete.’
- Type “PowerShell” into the Cortana/Search box. Make sure you select the option to run this task with administrator privileges.
- Type “sfc /scannow” without quotes and hit “Enter.” Take note of the space between “sfc” and “/scannow.”
- To fix any errors if you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them,” type “DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth.” You’ll need to be online, as Windows will download clean versions of corrupted files and replace them. If you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them,” you are all set.
If the above solution doesn’t fix your Windows 10 Start menu freeze-up issues, move on to the next option.
Solution #2: Kill File Explorer/Windows Explorer
Killing Windows Explorer is a quick-and-dirty fix that may come in handy for various situations, such as when you have non-responsive windows or sporadic issues on the Windows desktop. The process is not guaranteed to work, but has saved many Windows users from reinstalling their Windows 10 OS. Here’s how to kill the Windows Explorer process.
- Open Task Manager by right-clicking on Windows 10 Start Menu icon and selecting “Task Manager” from the menu, or hold down “Ctrl+Shift+Escape.”
- Scroll through the “Processes” tab until you find “Windows Explorer.” If Windows Explorer is already open, you’ll see another entry with a dropdown option, as shown below. Ignore that entry and choose the one without a dropdown.
- Right-click on the process and select “Restart” from the menu.
If restarting Windows Explorer does not solve your freezing Start Menu problem, move on to Solution #3.
Solution #3: Rebuild the Index
Indexing is the process of inspecting files, emails, and other types of content within your Windows 10 OS. The method also involves cataloging essential data, such as words, file locations, metadata, etc. If you perform a keyword search in Windows Explorer, you are using the indexing process that reviews all stored data to match your search criteria. The index of data helps speed up the search process significantly. Here’s how to rebuild the Windows 10 index.
- Hold down the “Windows Key+R” to open the “Run” window or right-click the “Start Menu” and select “Run.”
- Type in the following without the quotes or ending period: “control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions.”
- Click “Modify” on the bottom left of the Indexing Options window.
- Click the “Show all locations” button.
- Uncheck all the currently ticked locations and select “OK.”
- Now click “Advanced,” then click “Rebuild” in the Troubleshooting section. A message will pop up, saying that this may take some time. Click OK.
- Once the rebuild is complete, hold down “Windows Key+R” to open the “Run” window again. Now type in “shutdown /r” without quote marks to restart your machine.
If rebuilding the Windows 10 index hasn’t fixed your reluctant Windows 10 Start Menu lockup, it’s time to create some media.
Solution #4: Use the Media Creation Tool
There are several fixes to the Windows 10 Start menu issue, but the Media Creation Tool is the only method widely reported to solve the freezing Start Menu problem. So, if you’ve already made the mistake of embarking on some long-winded fix on a random internet forum that didn’t work, then give this a try.
The bad news: This process involves downloading Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool and creating Windows 10 installation media on a DVD or USB storage device. And it also requires you to reinstall Windows over your existing OS.
The good news: While using the Media Creation Tool is a bit long-winded, it’s the most likely method to fix your issue. The tool won’t delete your existing files when used as directed, although it is worth backing up anything important. If anything does go wrong, you’ll have to perform a clean install of Windows 10 and restore your data from a backup. Here’s how to use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
- Go to Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool site and download the Media Creation Tool.
- Create a system installation disk using the Windows Media Creation Tool.
- Run Setup.exe from the media you’ve created.
Note: When you go through the menus for the installation above, make sure to click “Keep files and applications.” This step ensures that the installation process will update and replace the necessary files and preserve your data and applications. However, it generally won’t keep installed programs.
In closing, if none of these fixes stop the Windows 10 Start Menu from freezing or locking up, back up all your data and start a new Windows 10 installation from scratch. Unless your PC or laptop is excruciatingly old and slow, a full reinstallation should not take long. Just make sure you have your Windows 10 product key on hand! If you have a fast USB thumb drive or external SSD, installing Windows from there is your best bet—you’ll be done in a half-hour or so.